Travel Scraps: Marijuana
I was sketching in Dalhousie when this guy came and sat down beside me.
"Hi," he said, looking at the drawing. "You're pretty good."
I nodded, thinking, oh no, not another one. I don't like to talk when I'm working and I'd just suffered a bunch of tourists asking 'How do you do it?' and 'Why do you do it?' and 'Why do you do it this way?' and 'What are you going to do with it?' and 'Does it pay' and 'Do we have to pay if we ask you to draw us?'
Anyway, so this guy, he went on sitting there, staring at me, until I paused and looked at him.
He gave me a chummy grin. "Would you like to do me a favor?"
"NO," I said, very definitely.
"You haven't even heard it – see, I'm a businessman and I've just recently launched a business – and, well, I was wondering if you would help me out – see, I want to create publicity posters."
"What sort of business?"
"Marijuana,” he agreed, not without pride. "Great demand for it around here. Drug-addicts come from abroad just for it. Good money in it. Anyway, I just got in the business and I want to advertise it, see?"
"And you want me to design the posters?"
"No," he said diffidently, fishing out a camera. "I would like to feature you smoking a joint in them – you think you could give me a pose?"
I met Carl and Melissa in Nepal. A very charming, interesting couple. The first day we met, they asked if, being Indian, I was religious. I said, no, and inquired in turn, if being English, they were religious. They laughed and said, "Church of England."
"Get serious," said Carl. "How can anyone with any sense believe in the Church of England? A Church created by a fat, horny King? The others, whatever you say about them, atleast had their noses pointing in the right direction."
I met Indra through them. Initially I thought he was just a local friend of theirs, but he turned out to be more than that.
"We asked Van (a French guy staying in the same hotel) if he knew where we could get some weed," said Melissa. "And he introduced us to Indra."
Indra came around six or seven times every day with the 'daily fix'. For a renowned drug dealer – he had a good following in our hotel – he was a surprisingly pleasant, down-to-earth character.
"Yeah, he's sweet," said Melissa. "The drug dealers here are so different from the ones back home. They're actually human. You can talk to them, you know?"
"Would you like to do jaap as well?" Indra asked me.
"He means do you want to get stoned," explained Carl.
"Ya, don't you know jaap?" said Indra, making a falling motion with his entire body. "Get stoned and fall down, you know?"
"Oh. No, I don't think so."
"I knew an Indian girl once, she liked to do it very much," he said. "She followed me around everywhere."
"Not me,” I said. "I'm not going to follow you anywhere."
Later, Van told me, "Marijuana is alright. It's natural, you know."
"So is Poison Ivy," I pointed out.
Van had recently been traveling in Cambodia. He recommended it very highly, for reasons not mentioned in any Cambodian tourism website.
"They've the best Marijuana I've tried absolutely anywhere! So you're not into drugs. But if you decide to give them a try, this is the place you should visit."
Melissa and Carl, who had also been there, recommended the country too, for the same reasons.
Melissa, naturally, had plenty nice things to say about the human qualities of the Cambodian drug-dealers.
"Some of them are grandmothers, you know? Such lovely women. One time we were walking through this village and these women came running to sell us weed – we got a HUGE bouquet, do you know, and dirt cheap!"
Her eyes lit up as she held out her arms to demonstrate how big a bouquet. Last time I saw anyone this delighted with a 'natural' purchase was when an aunt of mine bagged a large cauliflower in the Sunday bazaar.
Since their next destination was India, I warned them that they had better think of reforming somewhat. India has very strict drug laws – and if and when they get implemented, you can land up in jail for a very long time.
Carl said, "Yeah, governments are shit. Indian or British, they are all shit A friend of ours back home was caught at age 15 with drugs – the police waited until he was 16 to arrest him and then sent him to jail for 3 years. Yeah, it's pretty annoying back home. Illegal, my ass. 75% of the population is on drugs and it's still illegal. Blast the authorities."
"What do you do when you can't get drugs?" I asked.
They glanced at each other as if thinking NEVER let such a disaster EVER happen.
Then Melissa said, "Well, I smoke a lot of cigarettes and drink a lot of alcohol. And Carl, well, he gets a whole lot paranoid."
"Yeah, life is difficult back home," said Carl, and began to tell me about his various experiments with various drugs. There didn't seem to be anything that he hadn't tried. He'd had quite a past. Amongst many, many other things, he had been hooked to Ecstasy for nearly two years and he didn't remember much that he had done in those two years. Now he limited himself to just Marijuana – and Melissa, he said with a wink.
"Uhm," I said. "Why do you do it? I mean, with the Marijuana, what's the whole big deal? Why would you risk messing up your brain?"
"It's relaxing," said Melissa. "You know, everyone around you could be shouting and none of it affects you. You're floating in your own world."
"You could achieve that with an iPod." I said. "Although, I suppose, you could end up messing your ears that way."
"You're hopeless," she said.
Later I went for a walk and it was dark on the way back. A tall figure suddenly loomed up right ahead.
"Want Marijuana!" he shouted.
"No!" I said, startled.
"Me want it!" he clarified.
"Me don't sell it!" I clarified.
"Nada!" he said contemptuously and brushed past.
Travel Scraps: Marijuana
- » Published on December 28, 2006
- » Type: Opinion
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